Karnataka retains its champion status

A.VINOD

Rehan Poncha finished with a tally of three golds, three silvers and one bronze from the eight individual events he figured in.-K. GOPINATHAN

THE exciting battle between a pair of swimmers in either section and their attempt to leave behind an indelible mark gave birth to some glorious moments at the newly-commissioned Swarnandhra Pradesh Sports Complex pool, even as the sport returned to the National Games fold with some flourish.

In the end, there was no stopping Karnataka from retaining its status as the premier State in Indian swimming what with the southern State topping the points table in both the men's and women's sections with ease. But then, more than the race for the team honours it was the full-fledged struggle for individual supremacy fought between Rehan Poncha and Deepak Kumar Singh and Richa Mishra and Shikha Tandon in the men's and women's sections which made the week-long event all the more memorable.

Akbar Ali Mir monopolised the men's 50 and 100m butterfly events besides winning a silver in the 100m backstroke.-K. GOPINATHAN

The tremendous show put up by the foursome who between themselves garnered 20 out of the 32 individual golds at stake also was to completely overshadow quite a few noteworthy performances that were registered in their respective sections. But then again, all this never really mattered finally as Rehan Poncha and Richa Mishra found themselves being adjudged as the "Best Sportsman'' and "Best Sportswoman'' of the Games and were honoured with special trophies at the closing ceremony by the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Figuring in as many as eight individual events, the teenaged Rehan finished with a tally of three golds, three silvers and a bronze besides two golds and a silver in the relays. The Karnataka lad, despite the heavy workload, also had one effort that reduced the existing 400m freestyle National record to a thing of the past, though it is unlikely to figure in the record books of the Swimming Federation of India, which for reasons known best to its officials, has gone back to its earlier practice of recognising only those marks set at its senior Nationals as National records.

Shikha Tandon who lost out in the race for individual honours looks to be thankful for emerging as the most decorated swimmer of the meet.-K. GOPINATHAN

Besides that great effort in the eight-lapper, Rehan found his two other individual golds in the 200m freestyle, with a last-gasp finish which pushed T.A.Sujith (Services) to the second spot, and in the 400m individual medley which was marked by a superb win over the AP duo of Kailash Nath and Deepak Kumar Singh. But for the loss in the 200m, Sujith still had his moments as he picked up the 50m and 100m freestyle titles without hardly being troubled in either of the events.

Deepak, the hero of the last senior Nationals in Thrissur, was once again unconquered in all the three breaststroke events and in the 200m individual medley. The Delhi-based CRPF swimmer, representing Andhra Pradesh in the meet, was unchallenged as he went on winning, setting new meet marks in three breaststroke events and a new National record in the 200m individual medley. Besides these four golds, Deepak also collected another gold being a member of the AP 4 x 200m freestyle relay quartet and a bronze in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay.

Richa Mishra splashed her way to glory with a haul of 13 medals besides creating six National records.-K. GOPINATHAN

T. K. Senthil Kumar of Kerala was another swimmer who caught the eye winning all the three backstroke golds at stake. Having been under a cloud due to a positive dope test sometime back, it was a happy return for this Thiruvananthapuram-born swimmer to serious competition as he warded off the challenge from his rivals and came up with efforts that lowered the meet marks in the 50m and 100m.

It also proved to be a happy hunting ground for Akbar Ali Mir of Bengal who monopolised the 50m and 100m butterfly events besides winning a silver in the 100m backstroke behind Senthil, who while splashing his way to victory also erased the 15-year-old Games record of Wilson C. Cherian (1987). Besides Senthil and Akbar, Mandar Divse of Andhra Pradesh was another swimmer whose performance was somewhat drowned by the stirring show dished out by Rehan and Deepak.

Divse, a silver-medallist behind Kailash Nath in the 1500m freestyle at the Thrissur Nationals, seemed to be a man on a mission as he scored over his illustrious rival in the 30-lap race in Hyderabad and set a new National mark in the event which only went on to prove him to be an exiciting prospect. The Kolhapur-lad also won a second gold by being a member of the victorious AP 4 x 200m freestyle relay squad.

The Karnataka women (l to r): Shikha Tandon, V. Sivaranjani, K. Chitra and Reshma Millet, who won the 4*100m free style relay. Karnataka swept all the three relays.-K. GOPINATHAN

In the women's section, it was virtually a two-horse race for the individual honours between Richa Mishra and Shikha Tandon. And for all the commotion that Richa Mishra created by initially refusing a second drug test, aided by a Delhi-based SFI official, it was she who was the darling of the home crowd before she emerged as the queen of the pool with a tally of seven golds, three silvers and three bronzes.

The 19-year-old, figuring in as many as 16 events including the three relays, as she splashed her way into the hearts of the partisan crowd,also creating six new National records while winning the 400m and 800m freestyle, 50m, 100m and 200m fly and the 200m and 400m individual medley titles. Besides this huge haul, Richa was to finish second in the 200m freestyle, 100m and 200m breaststroke and third in the 50m and 100m freestyle and 200m backstroke events. Overall, it was a great effort from the Delhi collegian though it did rank only second to Nisha Millet's impressive 14-gold medal haul in the 1999 Games in Imphal.

Incidentally, Hyderabad also witnessed Nisha stage a comeback after missing the circuit through the better part of the last two years due to a spinal tumour. However, it was not a golden return for this spirited swimmer as she finished with only a bronze and a silver in the 100m and 200m backstroke. Both were won by Shikha who also reigned supreme in the 50m backstroke and the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle events. En route to her rich haul, Shikha also was to better the National records in the 50m freestyle and 100m backstroke events.

Viraj J. Paul bagged a double, winning the men's 1m and 3m springboard diving events.-K. GOPINATHAN

The teenager from Bangalore, though she lost out in the race for the individual honours to Richa Mishra, still was to emerge as the most decorated swimmer of the meet being a part of the Karnataka squad which swept all the three relays. Further her individual tally was also to include two silvers and three bronzes.

Other than Richa and Shikha, the only other swimmer who had a golden double to her name was V. Sivaranjani who won the 100m and 200m breaststroke events. Like Shikha, Sivaranjani too figured in all three relays which Karnataka won effortlessly. Also to share the limelight was young Saba Sait who came up with a National-record-breaking-effort in the 50m butterfly.

In diving, Maharashtra's Viraj J. Patil took both the men's springboard golds while it was Atul R. Patil (Services) who triumphed in the 10m highboard event. Among women, the honours were shared by Reshmi Das (highboard), Tanya Ganguly (3m springboard) and Vidita Powle (1m springboard). Kerala won both the waterpolo titles, its success in the men's section over reigning National champion Services causing quite a stir.

The results: Men:

Freestyle: 50m: 1. T. A. Sujith (SSCB), 0:24.30, 2. B. H. Ashwin Kumar (Kar), 0:24.94, 3. Dipesh Bairagyi (Ben), 0:25.07. 100m: 1. T. A. Sujith (SSCB), 0:54.03, 2. Rahul Batra (Kar), 0:54.80, 3. Amar Muralidharan (AP), 0:55.21. 200m: 1. Rehan Poncha (Kar), 2:00.28, 2. T. A. Sujith (SSCB), 2:00.71, 3. Amar Muralidharan (AP), 2:00.80. 400m: 1. Rehan Poncha (Kar), 4:13.28, 2. Amar Muralidharan (AP), 4:13.40, 3. Kailash Nath (AP), 4:20.52. 1500m: 1. Mandar Divse (AP), 16:39.69, 2. Rehan Poncha (Kar), 16:54.15, 3. Kailash Nath (AP), 17:14.89.

Backstroke: 50m: 1. T. K. Senthil Kumar (Ker), 0:28.61, 2. V. Arun (TN), 0:28.63, 3. M. Rehman (SSCB), 0:28.99. 100m: 1. T. K. Senthil Kumar (Ker), 1:01.54, 2. Akbar Ali Mir (Ben), 1:02.19, 3. Dipesh Bairagyi (Ben), 1:03.26. 200m: 1. T. K. Senthil Kumar (Ker), 2:14.40, 2. Rehan Poncha (Kar), 2:16.83, 3. Siddharth Saini (Mah), 2:21.28.

Breaststroke: 50m: 1. Deepak Kumar Singh (AP), 0:30.31, 2. Harinder Singh (AP), 0:30.80, 3. Puneet Rana (Pun), 0:30.88. 100m: 1. Deepak Kumar Singh (AP), 1:07.18, 2. Puneet Rana (Pun), 1:08.95, 3. B. Vinay (Kar), 1:09.29. 200m: 1. Deepak Kumar Singh (AP), 2:29.85, 2. B. Vinay (Kar), 2:34.01, 3. Puneet Rana (Pun), 2:34.46.

Butterfly: 50m: 1. Akbar Ali Mir (Ben), 0:26.52, 2. K. Rajeev (Ker), 0:26.61, 3. R. Anilkumar (SSCB), 0:26.71. 100m: 1. Akbar Ali Mir (Ben), 0:57.38, 2. T. A. Sujith (SSCB), 0:58.44, 3. Shreesh Reddy (Kar), 0:58.93. 200m: 1. Amar Muralidharan (AP), 2:10.61, 2. Shreesh Reddy (Kar), 2:10.63, 3. Rehan Poncha (Kar), 2:12.19.

Individual medley: 200m: 1. Deepak Kumar Singh (AP), 2:13.94, 2. Rehan Poncha (Kar), 2:15.81, 3. T.A. Sujith (SSCB), 2:17.58. 400m: 1. Rehan Poncha (Kar), 4:48.35, 2. Kailash Nath (AP), 4:53.46, 3. Deepak Kumar Singh (AP), 4:59.36.

Relays: 4 x 100m freestyle: 1. Karnataka (B. H. Ashwin Kumar, N. A. Krishna, Rehan Poncha, Rahul Batra), 3:42.40, 2. Services (Binoy Sebastian, Rejimon, Shibu Sebastian, T. A. Sujith), 3:42.88, 3. Andhra Pradesh (Ramesh Kumar, Deepak Kumar Singh, Kailash Nath, Amar Muralidharan), 3:48.02. 4 x 200m freestyle: 1. Andhra Pradesh (Kailash Nath, Deepak Kumar Singh, Mandar Divse, Amar Muralidharan), 8:11.18, 2. Karnataka (Shreesh Reddy, S. Srinand, Rehan Poncha, Rahul Batra), 8:14.81, 3. Services (Binoy Sebastian, P. S. Sujith, N. Jana, T. A. Sujith), 8:17.85. 4 x 100m medley: 1. Karnataka (Rehan Poncha, Rahul Batra, B. Vinay, Shreesh Reddy), 4:10.06, 2. Services (M. Rehman, L. Shyam Singh, T. A. Sujith, Binoy Sebastian), 4:10.64, 3. Kerala (T. K. Senthil Kumar, K. Chandrababu, K. Rajiv, R. Rejikumar), 4:10.66.

Women:

Freestyle: 50m: 1. Shikha Tandon (Kar), 0:27.45, 2. Reshma Millet (Kar), 0:28.40, 3. Richa Mishra (AP), 0:28.74. 100m: 1. Shikha Tandon (Kar), 0:59.71, 2. Reshma Millet (Kar), 1:01.66 and Richa Mishra (AP), 1:01.66. 200m: 1. Shikha Tandon (Kar), 2:10.48, 2. Richa Mishra (AP), 2:12.39, 3. Reshma Millet (Kar), 2:17.63. 400m: 1. Richa Mishra (AP), 4:35.11, 2. Shikha Tandon (Kar), 4:35.78, 3. V. Sivaranjani (Kar), 4:45.05. 800m: 1. Richa Mishra (AP), 9:35.06, 2. Shikha Tandon (Kar), 9:46.74, 3. V. Sivaranjani (Kar), 9:51.02.

Backstroke: 50m: 1. Shikha Tandon (Kar), 0:32.18, 2. Sony Cyriac (Ker), 0:32.97, 3. Reshma Millet (Kar), 0:33.30. 100m: 1. Shikha Tandon (Kar), 1:07.08, 2. Sony Cyriac (Ker), 1:11.12, 3. Nisha Millet (Kar), 1:11.33. 200m: 1. Shikha Tandon (Kar), 2:30.32, 2. Nisha Millet (Kar), 2:31.78, 3. Richa Mishra (AP), 2:31.79.

Breaststroke: 50m: 1. Saba Sait (TN), 0:36.06, 2. Madhura Patil (Mah), 0:36.51, 3. D. Mridula (Kar), 0:37.48. 100m: 1. V. Sivaranjani (Kar), 1:19.55, 2. Richa Mishra (AP), 1:20.09, 3. Saba Sait (TN), 1:20.78. 200m: 1. V. Sivaranjani (Kar), 2:49.84, 2. Richa Mishra (AP), 2:52.62, 3. Ambika N. S. Iyengar (Kar), 2:58.05.

Butterfly: 50m: 1. Richa Mishra (AP), 0:30.07, 2. C. Shubha (Kar), 0:30.81, 3. Shikha Tandon (Kar), 0:31.29. 100m: 1. Richa Mishra (AP), 1:05.22, 2. V. Sivaranjani (Kar), 1:07.34, 3. C. Shubha (Kar), 1:10.69. 200m: 1. Richa Mishra (AP), 2:23.95, 2. Archana Bhusan (Kar), 2:33.36, 3. K. Chitra (Kar), 2:35.06.

Individual medley: 200m: 1. Richa Mishra (AP), 2:28.56, 2. V. Sivaranjani (Kar), 2:30.67, 3. Shikha Tandon (Kar), 2:31.38. 400m: 1. Richa Mishra (AP), 5:09.91, 2. V. Sivaranjani (Kar), 5:21.30, 3. Shikha Tandon (Kar), 5:25.42.

Relays: 4 x 100m freestyle: 1. Karnataka (Reshma Millet, K. Chitra, V. Sivaranjani, Shikha Tandon), 4:09.68, 2. Andhra Pradesh (Rishu Metra, Avani Sawant, Bhavana Sharma, Richa Mishra), 4:21.53, 3. Kerala (S.Sumisha, B.Praveena, Sony Cyriac, V. Remya), 4:26.85. 4 x 200m freestyle: 1. Karnataka (Shikha Tandon, V. Sivaranjani, K. Chitra, Reshma Millet), 9:16.02, 2. Andhra Pradesh (Avani Sawant, Bhavana Sharma, Rishu Mehra, Richa Mishra), 9:36.54, 3. Kerala (Sony Cyriac, B. Praveena, V. Remya, S. Sumisha), 9:42.91. 4 x 100m medley: 1. Karnataka (Shikha Tandon, V. Sivaranjani, C. Shubha, Reshma Millet), 4:44.43, 2. Andhra Pradesh (Avani Sawant, M. S. Divya, Rishu Mehra, Richa Mishra), 4:53.41, 3. Kerala (Sony Cyriac, B. Praveena, V. Remya, S. Sumisha), 4:57.68.

Diving:

Men: 10m highboard: 1. Atul R. Patil (SSCB), 413.25 points, 2. Madan S. Jawelekar (AP), 409.00, 3. B. P. Dighe (Guj), 402.45. 3m springboard: 1. Viraj J. Patil (Mah), 519.85, 2. M. Manesh Kumar (Kar), 454.85, 3. Malpeddi Gopi (AP), 435.55. 1m springboard: 1. Viraj J. Patil (Mah), 315.75, 2. Harish Annaldas (Mah), 254.05, 3. Kunja Kishore Singh (SSCB), 239.80.

Women: 10m highboard: 1. Reshmi Das (AP), 365.30, 2. Suparna Paul (Ben), 324.65, 3. Mamoni Mondal (Ben), 324.15. 3m springboard: 1. Tanya Ganguly (Ben), 349.65, 2. Vidita Powle (Mah), 349.10, 3. Ashwini A. Mohite (Kar), 341.60. 1m springboard: 1. Vidita Powle (Mah), 157.30, 2. Ashwini A. Mohite (Kar), 155.85, 3. Mamoni Mondal (Ben), 152.25.

Waterpolo:

Men (final): Kerala bt Services 9-8 (at extra-time; 6-6 at regulation period). Losers' final: Bengal bt Maharashtra 8-7.

Women (final): Kerala bt Maharashtra 6-2. Losers' final: Bengal bt Karnataka 6-2.